AEW Full Gear 2023
November 18, 2023
The Kia Forum
Los Angeles, California

Watch: PPV/FITE (Non-US)

Meet our previewers:

Steve Case: It’s been awhile since this previewer has poked his head into the wrestling writing world. After a hectic October, both for the previewer and for AEW, here comes what is the new surest bet in wrestling, an AEW pay-per-view. That said, after arguably the most controversial “in front of the camera” month in AEW’s history, some wonder if these PPVs can still deliver to their high standards. Until one of these shows bomb, this previewer still has those high hopes, especially after the last couple weeks of television that mostly reminded folks of what AEW has been in the past and can still be. Steve isn’t on X, and he won’t give it to ya. So leave him alone. Check out the terrific children’s books written by his wife, The Good Doctor, like The Sleeper Hold: Pro-Wrestling for Babies, and many more!

Will Young: Will’s just trying to get by in this fuck of a world. You can read his writing about wrestling both on VOW and over at Creative Control, where he will be debuting a new series very soon. Follow him on X, @CC_PW and @willisalsoyoung

Suit Williams: The build for this show has gone on for an eternity, yet it still feels like this show snuck up on Suit. F4WOnline for fantastic Collision and ROH television reviews, VOW for columns, reviews, and retrospective series like The Bummer of Punk. He started it before Punk got fired, ok? @SuitWilliams on X/all X variants.

AEW World Tag Team Title Four Way Match
Big Bill & Ricky Starks (c) vs. FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. The Kings Of The Black Throne (Brody King & Malakai Black) vs. La Faccion Ingobernable (Dralistico & Rush)

Steve: Any combination of these four teams in a straight up team versus team match would have been ideal. I like Big Bill and Ricky as a team, but they don’t feel like long term champions. Rush has ROCKED in AEW, but Dralistico is not holding a belt. FTR doesn’t need it right now, and there may be money down the line if and/or when a heel Bucks team wins the gold. So I will go with the Kings of the Black Throne. I, like many, have been waiting for AEW to do ANYTHING substantial with this group. Brody King rules and deserves some shine. Hopefully Malaki can stay healthy. I see a lot of gold on the House of Black at the end of the night. Prediction: Kings of the Black Throne

Will: This is certainly a tough one to call for 100% certain. Big n’ Starks have been good in their role but I certainly don’t think they’ll be keeping the tag belts for too much longer. Of the remaining three teams, LFI and KOTBT seem like the two prime candidates going forward. Rush and co. have been getting more TV time and working their way back up, but I’m not confident that they are quite at the level to be full-on winning championships, so I think the House of Black accrue two more titles at Full Gear. Prediction: Kings of the Black Throne

Suit: The seemingly Collision exclusive tag team title scene makes its way to PPV, as Big Bill and Ricky Starks defend in this cobbled together four-way match. The feud was between Starks & Bill and the former champs FTR, who got beat in a squash on Collision a few weeks ago. Starks and Bill continued to get the better of FTR before the House of Black and LFI involved themselves in proceedings. The House of Black are doing their typical spooky, cryptic nonsense. LFI look to be back as ass-kicking babyfaces, although they’ve been cold to FTR in the build. Nothing here signals a title change, so I expect Starks to steal a pin away from FTR to keep the core feud going. Prediction: Big Bill & Ricky Starks

AEW TBS Title Three-Way Match
Kris Statlander (c) vs. Julia Hart vs. Skye Blue

Steve: They have been trying very hard to get this story of Skye Blue slowly turning on her friends to side with the House of Black since the dreaded mist spot. It worked well with Julia Hart, who is doing terrific work in the role and has improved immensely in the ring. Here’s the problem, Skye Blue isn’t there as a worker yet and this character just doesn’t seem to fit or work right now. This will hopefully be like many “worst match on an AEW card” matches and greatly overdeliver. I see Julia taking this one to make the House of Black the House of Gold, possibly with Skye helping her win and joining the House. Prediction: Julia Hart

Will: Stat has been ably performing in her role, for whatever time AEW will deign to give her, but it feels like the wind is at Julia Hart’s back right now. It also feels like a poorly-kept secret here that Skye Blue will assist Julia in the win, hence her presence here at all. Julia has been doing well in the past couple of months, so a TBS Title run for her would be a welcome one. Prediction: Julia Hart

Suit: This is another build that has fallen flat for me. Skye Blue got misted by Julia Hart a while back, and it has been teased that the mist would turn her heel on her friends Statlander and Willow Nightingale for a while now, much like when Hart herself got misted and turned heel last year. The issue here is that Skye Blue has the star presence of a brick, and that her, Nightingale, and Statlander have zero chemistry with each other as friends.

Hart is the most interesting part of this match, both from a character and wrestling standpoint. Hart just turned 22 years old and has put in a pair of solid performances in big spots recently against Statlander and Nightingale. She’s the most interesting member of the House of Black, and I think her winning the TBS Title would be the most interesting option of these three. Prediction: Julia Hart

AEW Tag Team Title #1 Contender Match
The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. The Golden Jets (Chris Jericho & Kenny Omega)

Steve: With the Bucks slowly leaning into the arrogant, passive aggressive, douchebag (art imitates life?) heels they have been so good at in the past, this match has become one of the most anticipated matches on the show. The Bucks desperately needed a change to freshen them up, and maybe light a fire under them if the match with Penta and Komander can be exhibit A. The Bucks vs Kenny and anyone has delivered MOTY quality stuff in the past. Add some years on all of them, and Chris Jericho, and I’m not sure this can hit to that level. I do think this can still be great though. Jericho has lost a step, but the man does step up in big spots and has 3 more all time talents around him to help. There’s some good stuff they can do with a long Bucks heel run. And honestly, will anyone shed a tear if the Golden Jets can’t tag again? I think the Bucks take this one by hook and crook. Prediction: The Young Bucks

Will: This is certainly not the most compelling use of any of these performers, in my opinion, but tag matches involving Kenny and the Bucks in the past have delivered, so I’m somewhat hopeful that Nick and Matt can step up their game here against their best buddy. Jericho’s presence is often a drag, but he can hopefully keep up with the other three on some level and they can help fill in the gaps, so to speak. There still seems to be a bit of juice left to squeeze from this Golden Jets thing, so I’ll say that Jericho and Omega pull out the win here. Prediction: The Golden Jets

Suit: A match that I didn’t have much to say about got a lot of juice this Wednesday on Dynamite. The Bucks look to be going heel again and doing it against their friend Omega for this team-of-convenience alongside Jericho. While the Bucks have the cache of building the foundation of AEW, they always have more juice to their work when they’re being the smarmy assholes a chunk of wrestling fans already believe them to be. With Omega and Jericho getting their revenge on the Don Callis Family on Dynamite in the Like A Dragon Street Fight, they don’t have much more reason to team, so I say the Bucks win the match and retain their future title shot. Prediction: The Young Bucks

Texas Death Match
Hangman Adam Page vs. Swerve Strickland (w/Prince Nana)

Steve: Whew boy! This has some HEAT to it doesn’t it? These two are 2 for 2 so far, and they are adding Texas Death to it? Angry, all black Hangman versus Killshot? YES PLEASE. Texas Death is Hangman’s jam and just watch Swerve’s Hell of War match or CZW stuff to see what he can do in this environment. This has MOTY potential, but more importantly, this can serve two purposes. It can re-establish Hangman as a tippy top tier guy, and firmly establish Swerve on that plain where he belongs. Either guy can win this and I’d be happy. Though with this being Hangman’s signature match, I think he takes it after needing to come just short of killing Swerve. Great chance to lose upward here for Swerve. Booking will have to follow through though. Prediction: Hangman Adam Page

Will: Hangman Page certainly talks a big game here, but I cannot shake the feeling that Swerve’s rise is undeniable. True, Swerve is not someone who has won every feud he’s been a part of; hell, sometimes his feuds don’t even really end at all. However, with every new stop along the way, Swerve’s persona and confidence continue to grow, to the point where I think he may just be the guy to dethrone MJF when that’s all said and done. No better way to heat him towards that end than to go over Page in his own match, a Page who is significantly cooled off from where he was a year ago. I think Swerve takes this, but Hangman gets a measure of revenge within the match and leaves Swerve a changed man. Prediction: Swerve Strickland

Suit: The best feud in AEW over the past few months reaches its apex here in a Texas Death Match. This is the feud that most resembles the AEW that I want – two fresh talents fighting with purpose and intensity. Swerve wants Hangman’s spot and will do whatever it takes to take it from him. Hangman was fighting to keep his spot, but after Swerve crossed the line by entering his house, now Hangman wants to kick his ass and make him pay. While the home invasion was a bit much for me – was the baby alone in the house? Was Swerve talking to an empty crib? – it worked in making this feud even more intense. 

Hangman’s promo on Dynamite had the ace energy people want more of out of him, and has taken the hype for this match to a boil at just the right time. Swerve feels like he’s on the verge of a real breakthrough, but I just can’t see Hangman losing here. Hangman scores the win going into the Continental Classic tournament, which I see Hangman being a big part of. Prediction: Hangman Page

AEW Women’s World Title Match
Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Toni Storm (w/Lutha)

Steve: Oh Timeless Toni, how you’ve divided the fanbase so. I am firmly in the camp that this gimmick is not bad, it’s actually quite unique and well done, especially over the last couple weeks. They still shove it down our throats a little too much, but now that Toni has geared this character in a more “motivated to wrestle for the spotlight” kind of direction, I think it’s much better. I have no idea who this Mariah May person is. I’ve never seen a match of hers, though I’ve heard she’s good. Is this the kind of way to debut her? I don’t know, it worked pretty well for Mickie James back in the day. Time(less?) will tell on that outcome. This match’s outcome seems to be pretty certain. Toni wins with some kind of help from Mariah, leading to their eventual feud. Where’s Jamie Hayter? Also, as a movie buff, I have to see All About Eve. Prediction: Timeless Toni Storm

Will: I can’t help but feel a bit bad for Shida. True, she has managed to become a 3-time Women’s Champion this year, but with her last reign, it was to hop the belt over to a seemingly hotter act. At least this time, there’s hardly any doubt that Toni Storm is the hotter act, so I think it’ll be Shida doing the honors again so that AEW can strap up Storm, currently on her career run. I’d be willing to bet that the newly-debuted Mariah May will play heavily into that result. Prediction: Toni Storm

Suit: I don’t get why we’re doing another Shida title reign here. I got the second one, giving the woman who held the belt during the pandemic a reign in time for Wembley. But this reign just feels like a transition over to Timeless Toni. I would have rather had Willow Nightingale get this spot, as she would be a fresh new name at the top of the women’s division. Now speaking of Timeless Toni, or NX-Toni if you will, this is the type of subtlety hammer gimmick that I came to AEW to avoid. She would fit right in with Chase U or Alpha Academy. I can see it now. Chad Gable says SHOOSH, Timeless Toni says SHOE, Fightful tweets crying face emojis. But they’re going full bore with it, bringing in Mariah May as the woman who will eventually turn on Toni for the spotlight. The bottom line is this: the sooner Jamie Hayter and Mercedes Mone heal up, the better. Prediction: Toni Storm

Christian Cage, Luchasaurus & Nick Wayne vs. Adam Copeland, Darby Allin & Sting

Steve: I have never been an Edge/Adam Copeland guy. He had his moments in WWE, especially as a heel opposite Cena and Undertaker, but I just never enjoyed him on top. Since his first return, this dude has not mattered AT ALL. I wasn’t against AEW signing him, even if I personally didn’t need to see him there. I will always be curious to see how upper echelon WWE wrestlers will do in AEW and give them a chance to be different. He is trying very hard to be a different kind of character. The problem is he just can’t go up to the standard this company has. At least he hasn’t shown it yet. The thing this has done, or at least enhanced even more than it already was, is shining a large neon sign pointing directly at Christian as THE guy from this pair. Christian is doing career best work in every facet. If anyone can bring it out of Copeland, it has to be Christian. Yes, this is part of the Sting retirement tour, and Darby, Nick, and Luchasaurus will fly around, but this match is about the interactions of Edg, er, Copeland and Christian. I think the Sting side wins so keep his record perfect, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the post match ends up being the most important part of this entire segment. Prediction: Adam Copeland, Darby Allin, & Sting

Will: I’m certainly not one to regularly bet against Sting in a multi-man PPV tag situation, but the power of The Patriarchy is at least giving me pause here. The TNT Champion is perhaps the best he’s ever been, and it’s not unbelievable to think that, en route to Sting’s impending retirement, he gets a win over the legend and cements the status of his stable. However, Nick Wayne is definitely one of the most pinnable lackeys in AEW right now, so he can all too easily fall victim to any of the three on the other team. For the purposes of keeping the fires hot on the feud involving all six, I’ll say that the babyfaces win this one. Prediction: Sting, Darby Allin, & Adam Copeland

Suit: Adam Copeland makes his PPV debut here against Christian Cage as part of this trios match. I had the Berenstain Bear effect with this match, because I first wrote this preview thinking this was announced as a street fight. Either way, these two alongside guys like Darby, Sting, Nick Wayne, & Luchasaurus, I can see this match outperforming expectations and stealing the show here. The money here is Copeland vs. Cage, so either Cage will do something heinous to Copeland to push that match for Worlds End, or Copeland will score the win over Wayne or the dinosaur to put him in line for a TNT Title shot. Since this is a part of Sting’s retirement tour, I’ll go with the latter. Prediction: Sting, Allin, & Copeland

AEW International Title Match
Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Jon Moxley

Steve: The big question here is do they do the reset and have Moxley beat Orange again to get things back on track before the concussion? Or does Orange actually win this one, hopefully leading to an even higher ascension? Judging by how Orange was handled after the first match, a terrific match by the way, I think I would like to see him win this time around. Where would that leave Moxley though? My heart says Orange and my head says Moxley. Whoever loses this match can be quickly reheated with this G1 style tournament coming up, so this feels like a true toss up. The match should be great again, this time with Orange maybe putting up a bit more of a fight than the extended squash that was at All Out. I’m going to go with my head here though, and say Moxley wins, leading to a great Orange run in this AEWG1. Prediction: Jon Moxley

Will: The unintentional scuppering of the initial Jon Moxley International Title run makes the future of this rematch a little bit muddier. Considering that Moxley will soon be heading to the Tokyo Dome for another title match, it may be reasonable to assume that, even if he wins here, it likely won’t be for long; it’s a weird sticking point for me, admittedly, but I find it hard to imagine AEW sending him over as a champion to drop a match. Not certain if this means that it’s time for Orange to overcome his demon in Moxley, it seems his character still has a bit of doubt, but that could be a story they choose to tell in the ring, which these two are very good at. I’ll go with Cassidy for the retention. Prediction: Orange Cassidy

Suit: Being live at All Out for the first Cassidy/Moxley match, it felt like Cassidy had lost his way up the card. He felt like a superstar. Defeated but defiant, he stood tall with blood all over his face before putting on his shades and giving the thumbs up to the Chicago crowd. He felt like a big deal. Unfortunately, everything fell apart with the International Title. Moxley got concussed and had a title switch on the fly, then Cassidy won the belt back when Moxley wasn’t cleared in time for the rematch with Fenix. So now, we’re right back where we started. Do you beat Cassidy again? Do you have Cassidy keep the title and get a huge win over the ace of the promotion? I say they get the title back on Moxley and give Cassidy his real push in the Continental Classic. Prediction: Jon Moxley

AEW World Title Match
MJF (c) vs. Jay White

Steve: Here we are. Everyone’s most anticipated match and favorite story. Listen, I HATE the Roddy, Cole, and Kingdom interactions and skits. The skits are HOT GARBAGE. Pandering babyface Max just is not it. Evil Max is the best Max. The guy that was modeling himself after early Roddy Piper. The lying, conniving, distrusting, and dishonest abhorrent heel is what he’s best at. There’s a way that he can become a huge babyface from that, because it was kind of already happening last year. The guy is so good at what he does, and so good in the ring, that the fans were already starting to turn for him out of sheer respect for how good he is. Similar to Piper. Similar to Flair and many others. The pandering to the crowd stuff? Not for me. Jay White on the other hand, comes off as the coolest guy in the room. He belittles all of Max’s dumb catchphrases and chants, or just ignores them all together, making Max look like an even bigger goof. He’s also been terrific in the ring since joining the promotion. I WANT Jay to win this so badly. Unfortunately, we will probably be getting some kind of Devil reveal that will lead to his next challenger at the World’s End show in December. I don’t know who the Devil is. I hope it’s Cole, so we can hopefully see a light at the end of the tunnel of this story. Prediction: MJF

Will: No way in hell is Jay White the guy to beat Max for the belt. I never believed it when they began this program months ago, and I sure as hell don’t believe it now. MJF has far too many irons in the fire vis-a-vis his various challengers on the horizon to drop it now, and White, entertaining as he may be, is not the guy to put the rocket onto, at least not now. This program reminds me of Hangman’s program against MJF’s buddy Adam Cole, in that I never once believed that the latter would be the guy to lift the belt. White, as Cole was in his time, is a fine heel obstacle, but one that MJF will undoubtedly clear. Prediction: MJF

Suit: Finally. After a build that saw bad promos, a stolen title belt storyline, mystery attackers, and maybe the worst timing for an antisemitism sub-angle you could possibly ask for, we’ve finally gotten to the match. Jay White has done well in this feud, handling himself as well as you could expect, but I don’t get the sense that he’s over to a main event degree. There may be some buy-in if he hits MJF with the Blade Runner since he pinned Max with it on TV, but I would be stunned if anyone buys into Jay White as a real threat to the title. 

Meanwhile, MJF has tried to course correct in his own right. After doing some of the laziest work of his life, MJF has gotten serious lately in trying to build this match, the Samoa Joe feud, and the Devil stuff while also keeping the pilot light on for the Adam Cole story. Oh, and Wardlow is around too. There’s so much going on with MJF that it’s impossible to believe that his run with the title will end here. I’m also worried about the match itself. I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that these two will mix like oil and water and have themselves the Switchblade Special, that being a 25-35 minute main event that feels every second of it. I’m ready to move on from all of this. This feud, these stories, this title reign writ large. I’m ready to get the taste of the MJF-era out of my mouth, if only for a little while. But that won’t happen here, as this flavor of ice cream needs more time to settle in our stomachs. Prediction: MJF